Inside Fujilfilm's African innovation centre

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Nestled in a Roodepoort business park area is Fujilfilm's (Fuji's) newly-opened African innovation centre.

The innovation centre is the first on the African continent, and will showcase Fuji's products and solutions, as well as offer training and support to business partners and interested parties, the company says.

While it is known as a photographic and printing company, Fujifilm is also involved in the medical space, offering primary healthcare technologies that help with diagnosis and screening of breast cancer, lung disease and tuberculosis.

The medical systems business is one of the company's biggest growth areas, according Takeo Hata, MD of Fujifilm SA.

Fuji initially entered the medical space in 1983, with the launch of the Fuji Computed Radiography digital X-ray system. Since then, it has introduced endoscope machines, digital and computer radiography systems, X-ray film, medical IT systems, ultrasounds and dry chemical equipment.

Hata says 80 years of experience in providing a range of solutions in several industries helped establish the company as one of the leaders in innovation. "Seeing what's on offer at the Fujifilm Innovation Centre Africa provides clients with a broader idea of what the company is truly capable of."

To demonstrate how some of its medical solutions work, Fuji has set up a medical systems room within the innovation centre.

Global stats show that one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is listed as one of the top five cancers affecting South African women, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa. Approximately 19.4 million women aged 15 years and older are at risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer.

In June, the Fujifilm innovation centre will welcome the Amulet Innovality machine, which is a digital mammography X-ray unit with 3D capability.

The new machine helps in early stage detection of breast cancer. It will join the FDR smart X-ray machine that assists with, among others, the screening of tuberculosis patients, says the company.

Fujifilm SA has partnered with the PinkDrive and other hospitals and clinics across the continent to provide training and technical support.

The PinkDrive is a public benefit organisation that aims to help with early detection of breast, cervical, prostate and testicular cancer.

Also featured in the innovation centre is Fuji's artificial intelligence (AI)-driven screening system, REiLi.

Anton Meyer, team member of Fuji's medical systems, says the AI screening system accelerates the screening of complex diagnosis.

The software tool, according to Meyer, is being used to support radiologists' clinical decision-making. "In South Africa, this has already had a huge impact on the screening of lung disease, upping the number of patients that can be diagnosed on a daily basis."

Fujifilm SA is also looking to introduce the Wonder Photo Shop concept store to the local market.

According to the Japanese-headquartered company, these photo print stores are established to "enrich people's lives with photos" and are already available in almost 90 stores in over 25 countries. "Wonder Photo Shop stores allow customers to experience the joy of photography and printing in a creative, inspiring and cosy atmosphere."

A replica of the Wonder Photo Shop store is hosted in the innovation centre.

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